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Slow year for streets now, North Bend looks to 2014

Only a few street projects, overlays and maybe a new stretch of sidewalk, are making North Bend’s to-do list this year, but 2014 is likely to be extremely busy for the city.

A million-dollar downtown plaza project tops the list of priorities in the 2014-19 Transportation Improvement Plan, as adopted by the North Bend City Council at its June 18 meeting. Next on the list are a right-turn lane for northbound traffic on Bendigo Boulevard at Park Street, reconstruction of the sidewalk on Second Street, a roundabout at the intersection of North Bend Way and Park Street, right-of-way acquisition for creation of a Tanner Trail, and construction of new sidewalk, curb and gutter, along with landscaping, on the north side of North Bend Way from Ballarat Avenue North to Downing Avenue North.

Combined, these projects total just over $8 million, with $1.5 million budgeted to come from the city, about $4 million from the state Transportation Improvement Board, $2 million from King County, and almost half a million from federal transportation funds, according to the plan.

Several council members were disturbed to see that two sidewalk projects, on Second Street and Cedar Falls Way, had been pushed out to 2014 and 2015, respectively. They began a lengthy discussion about how and why the items, slated for 2013 in last year’s Transportation Improvement Plan, had been bumped, and were not satisfied with the answer.

City Administrator Londi Lindell and Public Works Director Frank Page explained to the council that the city had received a $350,000 federal matching grant last year for its downtown plaza plan. Because it was a matching grant, the city had to commit or “obligate” the same amount to the project, which meant re-allocating the funds from other projects, or else lose the money.

Page told the council that the TIP is simply a plan that the council can amend annually. He agreed with councilmen who said the process needed to be improved, to avoid situations like this in the future, and said it might be possible to change the plan before adoption to include one of the projects.

The council’s consensus was that none of them wanted to jeopardize the city’s grant funding, but most of them asked for more details in the future about the full implications of matching a grant. The final vote on accepting the plan was 5 to 1; Councilman David Cook was opposed, and councilwoman Jeanne Pettersen was absent.

 

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